‘When, not if it happens’: Factors favor possible Austin megawildfire event

‘When, not if it happens’: Factors favor possible Austin megawildfire event

All it will take for Central Texas to become the next area engulfed by catastrophic wildfires like those seen in Australia is a dry spring and summer, an errant flame and sustained winds. Travis County fire officials say the likelihood of such a megafire event is just a matter of time. A recent report released by CoreLogic, an online property data service, ranked Austin fifth among metropolitan areas in the nation most at risk for wildfires. The only others in…

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Commentary: San Antonio should vote on aquifer protection, greenway trails

Commentary: San Antonio should vote on aquifer protection, greenway trails

Since 2000, San Antonians have voted every five years to dedicate a portion of our sales taxes to the Edwards Aquifer Protection Program, or EAPP. Residents are rightfully proud of a program recognized internationally as an elegant solution to protecting our primary source of water. Absent adequate regulation to protect the quality of San Antonio’s Edwards Aquifer water supply, we have opted to pay those who own land in the Edwards watershed for the ecological services they provide. Perhaps we…

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Texas Comptroller’s Office Partners with the University of Houston – Clear Lake to Perform Western Chicken Turtle Surveys

Texas Comptroller’s Office Partners with the University of Houston – Clear Lake to Perform Western Chicken Turtle Surveys

The Texas Comptroller’s Natural Resources program has contracted with the University of Houston – Clear Lake (UHCL) to conduct range-wide surveys in East Texas for the western chicken turtle. The partnership will inform an upcoming Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing decision for the species and develop information that local resource managers can use to sustain economic development while conserving natural resources. The historic range of the western chicken turtle includes wetlands across East Texas, a region that supports numerous industries…

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Record-breaking vote shows consensus and need for more Texas state parks

Record-breaking vote shows consensus and need for more Texas state parks

To my wife’s dismay, I was going to cook the Thanksgiving turkey over a campfire at Tyler State Park with the guidance of my son’s most recent Boy’s Life magazine. We have a big map of Texas on the wall of our family room. We’re on a mission to visit all 90 or so state parks, and about 30 push pins show the ones we’ve visited so far. At Monahans Sandhills State Park, we rode sleds down rolling dunes of…

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As aquifer protection debate continues, Nirenberg offers funding details

As aquifer protection debate continues, Nirenberg offers funding details

Mayor Ron Nirenberg plans to propose using future borrowing to help preserve land over the Edwards Aquifer while shifting the sales tax that currently funds that preservation over to San Antonio’s transit system. In an interview Thursday, Nirenberg laid out more specifics for his plan to continue funding the Edwards Aquifer Protection Program (EAPP). He proposed using an unspecified annual amount of San Antonio Water System funds, which could allow SAWS to pay for preserving more aquifer land over 10…

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San Marcos City Council weighs allocation of $24 million in disaster mitigation funding

San Marcos City Council weighs allocation of $24 million in disaster mitigation funding

City of San Marcos staff have developed a proposal for the use of $24,012,000 in Community Development Block Grant mitigation funding that the city received in 2019 to address flooding risks and prevention. Members of City Council received a presentation on the proposed plan during a City Council meeting Dec. 17. The drafted plan identified as potential categories for funding allocation: improving disaster sheltering, establishing and improving evacuation routes, land preservation, addressing repetitive loss, better warning systems, and increased numbers…

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Big money is building a new kind of National Park in the Great Plains

Big money is building a new kind of National Park in the Great Plains

A privately funded, nonprofit organization is creating a 3.2 million-acre wildlife sanctuary — American Prairie Reserve — in northeastern Montana, an area long known as cattle country. But the reserve is facing fierce opposition from many locals because to build it, the organization is slowly purchasing ranches from willing sellers, phasing out the cows and replacing them with wild bison. Those private properties are then stitched together with vast tracts of neighboring public lands to create one giant, rewilded prairie.…

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U.S. House Natural Resources Committee passes landmark wildlife conservation bill out of committee

U.S. House Natural Resources Committee passes landmark wildlife conservation bill out of committee

The Texas Alliance for America’s Fish and Wildlife applauds the House Committee on Natural Resources for a bipartisan vote last week on the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. The bill passed out of committee following a 26-6 vote and will now move to the House Floor. H.R.3742 would be one of the most significant pieces of wildlife funding legislation passed in over 80 years — it would help reverse the decline in our nation’s fish and wildlife and protect our natural…

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An unlikely environmentalist with an eye on the future

An unlikely environmentalist with an eye on the future

I’m an unlikely environmentalist. I spent most of my working life with a state transportation agency. I was an advocate for investments in safe efficient highways. Suffice it to say, I made few friends among those who worked for environmental groups. Ironically, I often agreed with their positions. I valued clean water and air and open natural spaces. What was frustrating is that they almost never offered any support for my view that safe and efficient highways saved lives and…

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Mysterious creatures: Exploring the depths of our karst aquifers

Mysterious creatures: Exploring the depths of our karst aquifers

“These ecosystems harbor some really amazing species,” said Dr. Ben Hutchins at the most recent Texas Water Symposium forum on Wednesday, November 13 at Schreiner University in Kerrville. Referencing the plethora of creatures that reside within Texas’ karst aquifers, Hutchins continued, “A lot of these are crustaceans; you may be familiar with shrimp, but relatively few people have seen a Texas Blind Cave Shrimp. These species occur sometimes at great depths. We have records from close to 2,000 feet under…

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